Lubricants play an important role in reducing friction within the engine, amongst the moving parts. A typical Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) has numerous moving parts, and if lubricating oils are low, or lose viscosity, it can cause permanent damage. This leads to constant innovation amongst lubrication manufacturers
However, with carmakers pushing for Electric Vehicles (EVs), the number of moving parts in vehicles have reduced, and the kind of lubricants necessary has changed. Although some components from ICEs remain, a lot has changed for other components. To know more, we spoke to Sandeep Sangwan, the Managing Director of Castrol India Limited.
How can oil and lubrication play a role in EVs, since they don’t need engine oil?
Even though electric vehicles don’t require lubricants in the form of engine oil, they require EV fluids in the form of transmission fluids, greases, and coolants. Several global automotive manufacturers use Castrol’s EV fluids as part of their factory fills for their EVs. In India, Castrol is currently the sole EV fluid supplier for Tata Motors and MG Motors. Being the market leader for lubricants in India, besides the four-wheeler/cars category, we are exploring options with two-wheeler electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers for the development of EV fluids.
What kind of lubrication products does Castrol currently supply for EVs?
Castrol offers ‘Castrol On’, an EV Fluid brand launched by Castrol for electric vehicles, comprising of e-transmission fluids, e-coolants and e-greases which help in enhancing the drivetrain of electric vehicles and for thermal management of batteries which enables ultra-fast charging that helps EVs go further on a single charge, thereby enhancing efficiency.
What are some of the steps the oil industry, especially Castrol, has taken to reduce its carbon footprint?
In June 2020, bp announced its Reinvent strategy and shared its aim to transform itself from an international oil company to an integrated energy company. As part of its strategy, bp has set itself an ambitious goal to achieve Net Zero by 2050 or earlier. In March 2021, Castrol announced its global Path 360º strategy to help deliver a more sustainable future. The strategy sets out aims for 2030 to save waste, reduce carbon footprint in production and operations and improve lives.
Castrol India conducted an energy audit, to identify opportunities to reduce energy including options to switch to renewable & solar energy solutions to power its plant operations and supply chain.
At Castrol plants across India, we have successfully commercialized a new blending process for select product variants. This will enable us to reduce our overall energy consumption and reduce our carbon emissions in line with our global Path 360º sustainability goals.
To reduce plastic consumption in our packaging, our India and global teams worked together to change the shape, size and look of our lubricant packs. The new packs are optimised to be stronger, lighter and easier to transport. Overall, we have been able to reduce our plastic consumption by up to 20% and lower our environmental footprint.
At the raw material level, we are looking at reducing the carbon intensity of Castrol products by sourcing base oils from suppliers who have reduced carbon constituents in their products.
What are Castrol’s future plans in terms of expansion?
Our priority lies in driving profitable growth through the personal mobility segment. We continued to invest heavily in our key brands through innovations in products and how we communicate our product USP’s to our consumers.
In addition to providing quality Castrol products in retail or Bazaar trade, we are also expanding our reach in independent auto workshops to serve consumers and customers in this segment. Parallelly, we are collaborating with ki Mobility Solutions to exclusively supply Castrol lubricants for their multi-brand workshops.
Jio-bp, a joint venture between bp and Reliance Industries has also provided an opportunity for Castrol to offer its premium products in fuel courts across India with our supply agreement with Jio-bp. In October 2021, we inaugurated India’s first Jio-bp fuel court near Navi Mumbai which redefines convenience and mobility. This partnership brings together our (Reliance and bp) best offers and represents several firsts for Indian customers – including the launch of Wild Bean Café and a new Castrol Express Oil Change service, which pioneers the concept of a swift and speedy oil change for consumers on the go. This will go a long way in providing a convenient and reliable service & brand experience for our customers.
How has the last year and a half been (during the pandemic and lockdown) for Castrol and how did the company tackle this?
In March 2020, the pandemic brought mobility and transport across the world to an abrupt halt, massively impacting demand. At Castrol, we resumed manufacturing operations at the earliest following the utmost health and safety precautions for our people, our suppliers, distributors, and our communities. Safety has always been core to Castrol’s operations, which translated into employees strictly following safety protocols to ensure business continuity and smooth supply chain operations.
We experienced a considerable dip in revenues in the second quarter of 2020 (we report the January to December financial year), however, we bounced back over the next quarters. In the third quarter of 2021, Castrol India Limited reported strong financial performance and resilient business growth maintaining the momentum built over the previous two quarters in 2021. We also delivered a robust top-line and bottom-line growth in the nine months ended September 30, 2021, versus 2020.
Our 3Q 2021 net sales grew by 22% compared to 3Q 2020. The cost of goods sold continued to be very challenging due to a sharp rise in input costs. We responded through timely pricing interventions and continued investment in our brands’ advertising and marketing spending to support value delivery to customers and reinforce brand salience. These measures helped us navigate the dynamic market situation.